There’s no better way to get me to read a book than to tell me a movie is getting made based on it. A movie co-starring my cousin, Bobby Daniel Rodriguez, with other names like Julianne Moore, and Ken Wantanabe, shot Ann Patchett’s Bel Canto to the top of my queue. In fact, I was so excited I sprang for the audible edition so I could have the story narrated to me when I couldn’t actively sit and read.
Bel Canto is a literary symphony, told in the spirit of an opera. Set in 1997 Peru, it is based on the true story of a terrorist takeover of the Japanese Ambassador to Peru’s residence, during a birthday party thrown for the Vice President of Peru. Patchett takes her readers inside the home with the party goers turned hostages for the entire 126 day duration of their confinement. Her readers discover the reality of captivity, the inevitable unlikely pairing of lovers, and a man’s love affair with his God, set against an incredible score of classical opera like nothing you’ve experienced before.
I was so enchanted by the story that I never deviated from the audible version. It’s worth noting that the narrator, Anna Fields, performed as brilliantly as the prose, never degrading herself to produce silly “girl” voices, or mocking the lower registers to make stereotypical male ones.
Bel Canto is a lyrical joy that captivated me from the first line, and held me tightly through a roller coaster. Even with the knowledge of exactly how the hostage situation resolved, this novel wrenched my heart, and even managed to deliver an ending I didn’t see coming.
The movie version of Bel Canto is slated to be released in 2018.